Introduction to the SICC

Overview

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon introduced the idea to create the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) at the Opening of Legal Year 2013. A high-level committee comprising of esteemed local and international lawyers, jurists and experts was assigned to study the viability of establishing the SICC and to recommend a suitable framework. The SICC was subsequently launched on 5 January 2015 with a view to expanding the legal services sector and broadening the scope for the internationalisation of Singapore law.

 

Asia’s First

Singapore is widely regarded as a prime destination for legal services and international commercial dispute resolution. The establishment of the SICC is in line with the goal to strengthen Singapore’s status as the leading dispute resolution hub in Asia and remain attractive to international law firms as well as in-house corporate counsels of multinational corporations. Singapore’s strategic geographical location and its well-established legal system also makes it well suited to become the leading dispute resolution hub to provide services to cross-border, multi-jurisdictional disputes in Asia.

 

Advantages of SICC

While parties have the option to resolve their disputes through international arbitration, choosing to pursue their claims in the SICC instead has potential advantages due to the following issues arising in arbitration proceedings:

1. Increasing costs of, formalities and delays in arbitration proceedings;
2. Legitimacy and ethical considerations in arbitration;
3. Arbitration decisions lack consistency and its jurisprudence is not well-developed;
4. Absence of appeals; and
5. Third parties are not allowed to be joined to the arbitration.

 

The SICC also allows for foreign legal representation and a key distinguishing feature is its judiciary which comprises of both local and international judges.

The services provided by the SICC serves to complement arbitration as it seeks to provide an alternative platform for parties to resolve transnational commercial disputes. The SICC bolsters Singapore’s provision of global legal services without undermining the international recognition and acclaim achieved by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in international arbitration.

 

Guide to the SICC

 

Sources of SICC Procedural rules

The SICC is established as a division of the Singapore High Court and is primarily governed by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Cap 322). However, the rules and procedure before the SICC are distinct from the High Court in the following areas:

  1. SICC cases are not bound by Singapore rules of evidence.
  2. The Rules of Court (ROC) may provide for distinct procedures and practices to be followed in the SICC.
  3. Parties may apply for questions of foreign law to be determined on the basis of submissions instead of evidence by experts.

The ROC is a subsidiary legislation which provides for procedure and practice to be followed by the SICC. This is supplemented by the SICC Practice Directions and a set of User Guides has also been published by the SICC to give more information on particular features of SICC proceedings.

 

Jurisdiction

Pursuant to s 18D of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, the SICC has the jurisdiction to hear cases that satisfy the following conditions:

(a) They are international and commercial cases;
(b) They fall under the original civil jurisdiction of the High Court;
(c) The plaintiff and defendant have submitted to the SICC’s jurisdiction pursuant to a written agreement; and
(d) Where a prerogative order is not the form of relief sought after.

In the next article, we will look at how you can commence proceedings at the SICC.

 

Please note that this article does not constitute express or implied legal advice, whether in whole or in part. If you require legal advice, please contact me at walter@silvesterlegal.com.